Known for its constant display of beautiful yellow flowers (and for looking like a miniature sunflower), the melampodium plant blooms golden petals with a dark gold center. A few of this annual plant's species grow cream and white petals with yellow centers, and other colors also include orange and orange-yellow hues. The plant gets one of its common names—black foot—from its dark, seemingly black lower stems.
Melampodium begins blooming in late May, and gardeners can expect these daisy-like plants to continue blooming all the way until the first frost of the season. They are easy to grow and can survive a variety of conditions and locations, including both containers as well as in the ground.
|Common Name||Butter daisy, Black foot|
|Mature Size||6-12 inches tall, 8-12 inches wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Sandy, rocky|
|Bloom Time||Spring, Summer, Fall|
|Flower Color||White, yellow|
|Native Area||Mexico, Brazil, Southwestern US|
How to Grow Melampodium Plants
These plants are beautiful, but also tough—they can survive poor soil, drought, and baked conditions and still produce gorgeously bold daisy-like flowers. You can effectively plant melampodium with other sun-loving annuals to produce a cheerful summer garden.
Better yet, they're easy to grow; melampodium seeds can be sown right after the first frost, or even indoors for six to eight weeks (which is best for locations with a short growing season). The seeds can be started in flats, and then moved outdoors once temperatures are consistently over 60 degrees.
Considered an easygoing plant, melampodium will grow just fine in regular garden soil. However, it does require a good amount of sunshine, so just be sure to plant melampodium in a location with access to full sunlight. Your plants will also need plenty of water in the beginning, but once they're established, it's not a flower you'll want to overwater—in fact, this hardy plant prefers its soil on the drier side.
The other bit of good news is that melampodium also won't require a significant amount of pruning or deadheading. These are low-maintenance flowers that will continue to blossom on its own up until the first frost of the year. In certain warmer locations, the melampodium will self seed, so you can enjoy these flowers year after year.
The melampodium plant will grow best when exposed to full sunlight, as it will encourage optimal flower growth while also helping to keep the plant intact. As many varieties of these plants mature, they tend to flop over—planting them in full sun will help prevent that from happening. Pinching back early in the growth (or shearing if it begins to flop) can also help.
This plant is native to areas with rocky soil, so while it will require well-drained soil to truly thrive, it is tolerant of nutritionally poor soils.
A drought-resistant and heat-tolerant plant, melampodium will grow best with regular watering. But just be sure to allow the soil to dry out slightly in between waterings.
Temperature and Humidity
These are truly warm-weather plants that can survive an array of heat-related conditions. Once they're established, melampodium are drought tolerant. Despite its toughness, melampodium is susceptible to growing powdery mildew when planted in certain humid areas. Proper sunlight can help prevent this problem, but if you do see mildew growing, pruning infected areas can prevent spreading.
To keep your melampodium blooming all season long, consider adding a slow-release fertilizer or a general purpose liquid fertilizer to your soil.
Potting and Repotting
When potting melampodium, the seeds are best sown indoors at alternating temperatures of 68 and 86 degrees. Aim to sow at a depth of four times the diameter of the seeds. Be sure to allow approximately 10 to 15 days for the seeds to germinate.
You'll want to sow your melampodium seeds indoors about seven to ten weeks prior to moving your plant outdoors, and after that little to no maintenance is needed. When planted outdoors in warmer locations, the melampodium will self-seed so its flowers come back year after year on their own.
Some Varieties of Melampodium
- Butter Daisy: Colors range from lemon yellow to golden orange; dark orange-yellow centers
- Blackfoot Daisy: Bushy plants with small white daisy-like flowers and narrow, grayish-green leaves
- Casino Light Yellow: Bright and cheerful daisy-like yellow flowers
These flowers are considered self-cleaning, so no deadheading is required to eliminate spent blooms, and they are also self-branching (so no pinching is necessary).
Growing in Containers
Since the melampodium plant likes dry conditions, it makes a fantastic container plant. Just be sure to initially transplant them into a light, well-drained soil and be wary of overwatering.